The Signs of Malnutrition

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Malnutrition has affected a great many people in various parts of the world; for that reason alone, knowing the signs of malnutrition has become a pertinent concern. Before addressing the symptoms though, it may be necessary to answer the question: What is malnutrition?

Malnutrition is an imbalance of nutrients in a person’s body. One of the causes of that imbalance is the intake of foods that are not nutritious, whereas the other basic primary cause would simply be not consuming enough nutritious foods. Malnutrition can also happen in either of the categories of undernutrition or overnutrition.

Undernutrition occurs when the body cannot accumulate enough nutrients due to lack of food or poor diet. Overnutrition takes place when the body is getting nutrients, but imbalance occurs in the aspect of the level of certain nutrients being unfavorably emphasized over others. Malnutrition is an epidemic in many developing countries, especially in areas where food is scarce. Malnutrition is a serious health condition, and should be avoided whenever possible. If the question of diagnosis arises, there are a few key characteristics to keep in mind.

Dry scaly skin

When a person’s skin looks dry and scaly, then it may possibly be a sign that an individual might be manifesting one of the signs of malnutrition. When the skin is dry and scaly it will not look pleasant, and if touched can feel rough. The difference between a healthy and sickly skin is not terribly difficult to spot. Anyone can easily notice the dryness of person’s skin, especially when it reaches the extent of being visibly scaly. One warning signal may be a gradually building irritation over time as a result of the persistent, long-term dryness and scaly effects of the onset of malnutrition.

Loss of appetite and weight loss

There can certainly be other causes, besides malnutrition, for loss of appetite and weight loss occurred in a person’s health. When an individual does not want to eat as much as he or she usually would, this alone may cause body weight to drop accordingly, and can be an indication that one of the signs of malnutrition is being experienced. Loss of appetite cannot normally be observed by others, but weight loss can only be hidden to a certain extent. Malnutrition, if not treated early, will become a cause of other health problems in the future. To avoid more dire consequences, loss of appetite and weight loss should not be taken for granted.

Fatigue and energy loss

People usually experience fatigue and loss of energy every now and then, but not all of these experiences are normal. For some people, unfortunately, it can be attributed to the signs of malnutrition. Fatigue is a condition of the body in which a person feels worn out or tired. Loss of energy is similar to fatigue, though more specifically where the level of strength an individual possesses has lowered or decreased. If fatigue and loss of energy becomes a frequent recurrence, it is time for it to be taken seriously and looked at further. Ignoring the occurrence would only augment the problem as it continues; rather than simply ignore it as a “slump” or similar excuse, care should be taken to ensure that the recent malaise is not due to a serious cause like malnutrition.

Although many people immediately think of skinny children in developing countries when they hear the term “malnutrition,” it is certainly a health risk that can affect any age and even in the wealthiest areas. Human beings should be fit, active, eating appropriate portions, and following a healthy diet; hopefully, they should never need to be concerned with the signs of malnutrition.


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